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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

6 Easy Steps to Awesome Newsletters that Meet CCSS AND Get Students Involved


At this point I believe most classroom teachers, Title I teams, Special Education Teams, etc. have all finally got on board and send home either a weekly newsletter as individuals or as a team.  We know the forms this can take such as email, website, blog, or paper. We know the benefits of such

communication, like more parent participation, less phone calls, and an overall understanding of the roles your class or team or room is fulfilling in the school building as a whole.  I'd like you to consider how you create the newsletter though...is it at 9pm on Sunday night? Is it about last week? The upcoming week? A mixture of both? Here is how I do it, and how I hope you will try to implement newsletters into your school day/writing/ELA block at any age level K-6: 

1. Monday- Thursday: experience learning standards that are focused and meaningful, with students as active participants in the lessons through movement, conversation, modeling, manipulative a, and/ or play.  (So, in other words, have at fabulously run and effective classroom that is just delightful!!! Haha:) 

2. When Thursday rolls around, use your projector ( hopefully you have one for the SmartBoard or some other technology in your room!) to display a blank word document or choose a newsletter template together and explain to the class briefly that you'll be creating the newsletter together, everyone gets a sentence, everyone helps! 

3. Call on each student one at a time to give you a complete sentence from the week that they learned or enjoyed, or something coming up soon that they are looking forward to.  Type each and every idea, even if they repeat.  EVERYONE contributes in an important way.  Older kiddos can type their sentence into the document themselves, or you can do them all.  

4. Read through your sentences together, model how to cut and paste or otherwise edit the document so it flows into paragraphs that make sense together, or fits into a format that is visually easy to comprehend.  

5. Allow students to give input about font, text size, what to call the newsletter, and/or adding any pictures that are relevant to the content they've created.  

6. Publish, upload, or print your newsletter on Friday Morning.  During this ELA block, allow students to use a highlighter to fin the sentence they contributed to the newsletter, highlight it so it stands out, and then have them buddy read it to each other.  This is a chance for one last revision, then sent it home or out to the web!

I've done this type of newsletter at every grade level, K-6 and it is always fun and meaningful.  The students love being able to talk about what they've learned this week and of course it gives us another form of assessment (oral, formative, authentic) to see what we as teachers hit home runs on that week or might need to revisit because it didn't make a big enough impression to make it into the newsletter!

Have you used this or something similar? Might you try this? What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you! 

Until next time, 
Stefanie ~~

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A question for YOU! You awesome educator, you ;)

I find myself wondering this: 
When do you feel the real teaching-- the really good stuff-- happens in your day? Why do you feel that way? How does that time look and feel differently than other periods of time in your day? Please, answer below!! 

Thanks ;) 

Stefanie 
Above: students in a 1/2 blended classroom become scientists as they take notes on another students modeled experiment.  Is role play and/or note taking valuable to you?! Is it valuable to your kids? Does it increase the value of learning enough to plan ahead for it and make time for it in the day?